Jens Wollenschläger / Lords of the Chords

Franz von Suppé: Missa Dalmatica

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Even though Franz von Suppé is almost entirely remembered for his overtures -- Poet and Peasant, Light Cavalry, and Morning, Noon, and Night in Vienna -- his youthful Missa Dalmatica has been been rescued from obscurity and is on the radar of some choral groups. Not only did the Concentus Choir Bruneck give the work its world-premiere recording in 2010, but the Lords of the Chords and Jens Wollenschläger have followed it with a second worthy recording, released in 2011. This piece had been lost since von Suppé's time, but the discovery of separate parts in Zadar and Vienna led to its reconstruction. The work is scored for three male soloists, male choir, and organ, and is melodious and cheerful, with a fair number of ingenious and memorable passages. Bearing in mind that von Suppé composed this mass at age 14 and revised it years later, it doesn't reveal any salient qualities associated with the composer of operettas, nor does it give an idea of what he might have written if he had continued in the genre of sacred choral music. As it stands, it is an attractive Romantic piece in an Italianate vein that many male choruses would enjoy performing. The Lords of the Chords give Missa Dalmatica a warm and ingratiating performance, and Wollenschläger interprets the music in a straightforward manner, without affectation or even much rubato. The church recording is resonant, but the voices are close enough and the Latin texts are easily heard.

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